Teenage Angst: Understanding Your Emotions and How to Cope with Them
“Aaaargh! No one understands me!” “I hate my life!” “I wish I were somebody else!”
Sound familiar? If you’re going through your teen years, you’ve probably said these things a million times.
The teen years are among the most challenging phases we go through in life. This period is rife with immense physical and hormonal changes that affect our overall health, general disposition, social interactions, and many others.
To help you go through this season and cope with the changes it brings, let’s take a look at one of the most common issues plaguing teens—teenage angst.
What Is Teenage Angst?
Angst is the feeling of fear or anxiety about one’s existence. In your teen years, this includes the typical insecurities you might have and the stress you go through as your body changes. Your voice changes pitch, your body develops, your skin becomes sensitive—the list goes on. Aside from the evident physical changes, though, you also go through unseen mental and emotional changes.
As you transition from childhood to adulthood, your brain rewires itself. However, the areas that control emotions tend to develop faster than those involved in cognitive thinking.
In simpler terms, you get all these intense emotions without a fully mature thinking brain to help process them. It’s like running Windows 10 on 512MB of RAM. It works, but it runs extremely slow and is prone to hanging and crashing.
You want to do more, but you’re unable to do so just yet.
This flurry of changes can result in poor insight, uncontrolled behaviors, and lack of judgment. This also tends to cause a turbulent emotional roller coaster that can be frustrating, overwhelming, and even downright scary. That whole gamut of emotions you feel is what we generally call teenage angst.
Signs of Teen Angst
Among the usual signs of teen angst are mood swings, being overly self-conscious, short-temperedness, and wanting to sleep more. You may find yourself wanting to spend more time with your friends and having more boldness to take risks. You might also find yourself being rude or snapping easily at other people. You might either lose appetite or go binge-eating. While these are typically normal, any extreme behavior signals something more serious.
Turn to your family for support if you find yourself feeling or doing any of the following:
Sudden lack of interest in the things or hobbies you used to enjoy.
Skipping family dinners and gatherings, and other forms of social withdrawal.
Persistently having trouble sleeping and having lingering feelings of lethargy.
Frequent angry or aggressive outbursts.
Desire to engage in risky acts that can potentially escalate into life-endangering situations.
Engaging in the use of drugs, excessive drinking, and dependence on other vices.
Constant feelings of anxiety, fear, or worry.
Bouts of depression.
Effects of Teen Angst
Whatever degree of angst you exhibit, it affects almost all aspects of your life and your relationships. The extent of the ill effects depends mostly on which signs you exhibit or the emotions you tend to feel. Generally, teen angst results in some of these common issues:
Poor physical and mental health
Poor eating habits and erratic sleep patterns take a toll on your health. Depending on how your diet has changed, you either lose a lot of weight or gain too much. Whichever it is, it leads to several other health conditions, including severe acne breakouts, heart diseases, and diabetes. This can also lead to mental health disorders that create even more problems.
Dismal performance in school
When you have too many worries, you tend to lose motivation. You’re unable to focus on your studies, and eventually, your performance declines. When this is not addressed early on, it can spiral into feelings of unworthiness and lead to depression.
Among the dilemmas teens face is the desire for independence but the lack of capacity to do so. You might find yourself yearning for more freedom from your parents, but then your parents seem to be keeping a tighter rein on you.
You might also feel that you have suddenly become a stranger in your own home. So you start skipping family dinners and seeing less of your family. But this rift doesn’t just happen inside the family. Sometimes, the same thing happens with peers and childhood friends. You find that your interests have changed and you are no longer in sync with the group.
How to Cope with Teen Angst
Until you grow up and become a mature adult, you’re bound to be stuck with teen angst. Don’t despair, though, it’s not a hopeless case. You can cope with it and find ways to deal with your changing moods and emotions.
Accept yourself. Accept that you’re a teenager with a body in havoc. Physical and mental changes are bound to cause emotional peaks and dips. This is normal, and your friends are going through the same process.
Divert heightened passion into worthy causes
Find an advocacy to support. Use all that passion brewing up inside you for something that can inspire and help others. By creating impact in other people’s lives, your own life becomes more meaningful and you learn to love yourself better.
Veer away from stereotypes
You don’t have to go through the rebel teen stage at all. You can bear with all that hormonal turbulence without having to switch personalities. Your crazy teen years will come to pass. With your teen years much shorter compared to the rest of your life, do your utmost to avoid making rash decisions that can negatively affect your future.
Even if you feel that no one—not even your own family—can understand you, seek guidance. Find a responsible adult you can freely communicate with. Express your thoughts and voice your concerns. It’s fine to seek the help of a psychiatrist if you are struggling with your thoughts and emotions.
Having someone to help you process and manage your emotions can save you from a future full of regrets for wrong decisions you made in your teens.
Getting enough good sleep can thwart mood swings and feelings of lethargy. But then, insomnia is also one of the signs of teen angst. To improve the quality of your sleep, get some exercise even if you don’t feel like it. Exercising not only burns calories but also burns through anxiety, frustration, and anger. It also releases endorphins, the happy hormones that can help you cope with teen angst better.
Passing Your Teen Years with Flying Colors
If emotions were colors, you’d go through all the 1,867 colors in the Pantone system in your teen years. But with some help from those who care for you, you can cope with all the challenges and go through this phase with flying colors. So, even if you feel like no one can ever understand you, keep communication lines open, especially with your family.